Month: April 2017

Georgia Jones

Hatters end Mystics season at Play-off Quarter Final stage

Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters are into the WBBL Championship Play-off semi-finals after winning 75-90 on the road at Manchester Mystics in a clash between the league’s fourth and fifth placed sides.

Hatters, Play-off winners in 2015, came into the game having lost their last two league games, and three of their last four on the road, to finish in their lowest ever position in the WBBL. And they were soon a long way behind in this game as Mystics raced into a double-digit lead at 22-9 when Rheanne Bailey, Lauren Thomas-Johnson and Amy Browne hit early three-pointers.

But Hatters then rattled off a quick nine points in response, capped by Jo Lowry’s ‘and-one’, and they were back within one shot when Georgia Gayle hit a three-pointer. Helen Naylor then opened the second stanza with another triple, and Hatters were soon in front at 32-30 when Steph Gandy scored consecutively.

The teams – who won once each in league meetings, the head-to-head settled by just three points – could then barely be separated until the latter stages, with seven lead changes and the teams tied on six occasions.

But Hatters, who beat Mystics in the regular season run in and took that head-to-head, came on strong late on, winning the fourth quarter 28-10, beginning as Gandy and Naylor opened the period to put them in front.

Naomi Campbell scored five to keep Hatters in front, and Gayle made an ‘and-one’ as that pair scored all of the points in the decisive 11-2 run, Campbell proving crucial with ten fourth quarter points as Gayle’s triple made the score 82-73.

The lead was double-figures when Naylor scored heading into the final minute, to keep Hatters in the race for The O2 Arena and a shot at regaining the title.

Report by WBBL

Manchester Magic Play-off Champions 2017

Magic Repeat as NBL Division One Play-off Champions

Manchester Magic capped another excellent season of basketball with a resounding 73-53 victory over Loughborough Student Riders to retain their NBL Division One Playoff crown.

Duane Morgan was in sizzling form for Magic, producing a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds – both game-highs – to be named the final’s Most Valuable Player.

Such was Magic’s dominance, they led the game from start to finish, opening up a huge 42-21 lead in the first half that typified coach Paul Middleton’s attention to detail and emphasis on defence.

Middleton commented: “I didn’t think it would be such a big margin so early in the game, but our aim was to try and hit them hard in the beginning, which I think we did. We knew they’d find it difficult to come back after that.

“They are a dangerous team, very good offensively and they’ve got some good athletes, but I think on the whole we defended quite well and think they don’t match up particularly well with us.”

Loughborough, who were surprise finalists after finishing fifth in the league and defeating top-seeded Team Northumbria in the semis, seemed overawed by the big occasion. They were also hindered by a knee injury to one of their top players, Joshua Ward-Hibbert, limiting him to just four minutes on court.

Although Reiss Pinnock and Levi Noel battled hard in Ward-Hibbert’s absence, Magic’s experience and superior depth proved telling and they refused to give Loughborough so much as a sniff of a comeback.

A bit of a scuffle in the third quarter resulted in a number of unsportsmanlike fouls for both sides and Stefan Gill being ejected, but it was a minor blot on an otherwise excellent day for Magic.

Backing up Morgan’s huge numbers, six other Magic players had six or more points, while Simon Anumba and Ryan Lewis did a superb job of keeping the team in control of rebounds.

Ultimately it was Morgan’s day to shine, with the American forward admirably filling the shoes of Magic’s previous import superstar Ellis Cooper. Morgan produced a couple of highlight dunks and was frequently too much for the Riders to handle around the basket.

Morgan said: “We worked very hard this year and to see it all come together like this is really a huge relief. I felt that I played well but it was a team win. I wasn’t worried about my stats or the MVP trophy – I just wanted to get the win.”

Report by Graeme Roberts

Magic U18 Cherbourg Tournament 2017

Magic U18 finish creditable fourth in Cherbourg Tournament

Manchester Magic Under 18s finished a creditable fourth in the annual international tournament in Cherbourg over the Easter weekend.

After opening with a 59-57 win over Guadeloupe, they went down 48-37 to Tunisia U18s before clinching a semi-final spot with a fine comeback win over their French hosts.

Trailing by nine at one stage, Magic, coached by Pete Paraskeva, hit back to win 44-40.

Up against fellow English side Southwark Pride in the last four, Magic lost 59-51 before suffering another defeat to Tunisia, this time 51-42, in the battle for third spot.

Coach Paraskeva said he was “extremely proud” of his players, praising their “great character” and “level of professionalism throughout”.

He also highlighted the win over Cherbourg, hailing the “very resilient and spirited fightback”.

Magic U18 Cherbourg 2017
Magic U18 Cherbourg 2017
Magic U18 Cherbourg 2017
Magic U18 Cherbourg 2017
Hinds, Lee and Cleary

Hinds, Lee and Cleary selected for GB selection camp in June

Manchester Mystics duo Ashana Hinds, Khia Lee (U16 Girls) and Magic’s Kaiyem Cleary (U18 Boys) have been selected for inaugural Great Britain selection camp in June ahead of the FIBA U16 & U18 European Championships this summer.

Following on from the successful conclusion of the second National Junior Training Camps (NJTCs) in Birmingham, Leicester and Manchester on Wednesday, 68 England players have been selected across four age-group categories: U18 men (18), U18 women (17), U16 boys (17) and U16 girls (16).

They shall now vie with their Scottish and Welsh counterparts for the honour of representing GB later this year.

Full Squads here

Manchester Mystics U14

Mystics U14 seal Junior Final Fours spot after beating Haringey Angels

Manchester Mystics U14 sealed their place at the Junior Final Fours with a 62-44 victory over Haringey Angels in the Play-off Quarter Final on Saturday afternoon at the Amaechi Basketball Centre.

To describe Haringey Angels girls U14s as big is as much of an understatement as calling Lewis Hamilton a fairly fast driver or Jose Mourinho as a tad full of himself. I had been warned that they had several tall players. Wrong. They were huge! Once I had recovered from a stiff neck looking up at their 6ft 12 #15, I reassured myself that we were well prepared and reminded the girls that our game plan remained sound. They were all excited about the challenge ahead and in confident mood.

What transpired proved to be well worth the wait. From Mystics point of view, almost everything turned out to be as we wanted. There was a terrific atmosphere. (No drums or horns!) The table officials and referees were excellent. (Despite the fact that we were called for 26 fouls to their 7 and they were awarded 38 free throws to our 7.) All 10 Mystics displayed enormous mental strength and togetherness to show once again that they are as well-knit as any high quality pullover.

Haringey had proved themselves to be a high scoring outfit, averaging 75 points per game with numbers 6 and 15 regularly amassing 30+ points each. Today they mustered just 12 and 10 while their team fell 31 short of its average. We did not put Clingfilm over the basket but we did play outstanding team and individual defence throughout.

Apart from a nervous start where we trailed 3-4 due to missing our first 5 lay-ups, our only sticky patch came at the start of the third quarter. We had deservedly established a 14 point lead at 29-15 and seemed in control. My half-time pep talk must then have acted like a dose of Mogadon and sent everyone to sleep because we came out after the break a scold as a frozen pizza. Haringey took advantage to cut the margin to 8 at 33-25 and lesser teams could have fallen apart like a cheap MFI wardrobe. I called a time-out in an attempt to stop the rot. (If I was being paid, that’s what I would be being paid for!) My Churchilian speech- in the style of the dog rather than the politician- must have hit a nerve because we hit back with the Avengers, sorry, with avengeance in the shape of an exhilarating 15-3 burst to all but seal the deal at 48-28 going into the fourth period.

By now, my options were as limited as Donald Trump’s intellect. 3 of our starters had 4 fouls apiece and Charli Wroe could not continue due to a bad back. It did not matter. The depth of our squad once again showed its value. The girls saw out the contest with a maturity and composure way beyond their years to finish worthy 62-44 winners thanks to a total team effort. Their skill and determination have earned them a place in the Final Fours on Saturday 29th April where we will face Richmond Knights at 12:00noon at the National Basketball Performance Centre at Belle Vue.

I have done some research and they have no one called Lancelot playing for them but will be challenging opponents, as any team would be at this stage of a national competition.

Thanks to Sammy and Nicola for their help and to all parents for their support and co-operation.

Jim Carnegie

Jones and Allen

Mystics’ Jones and Allen make WBBL stat stars for March

Manchester Mystics’ Georgia Jones and Dominique Allen make the WBBL Stat Stars list for the month of March. Both Jones and Allen make the list for the third month running.

WBBL Stat Stars for March:
Mystics’ Georgia Jones averaged 20 points and 5 assists per game — Manchester Mystics (@Mcr_Mystics) April 6, 2017

Georgia once again averaged 20 points per game and also dished out 5 assists per game over the month of March, both 3rd best in the league. 

WBBL Stat Stars for March:
Mystics’ Dominique Allen 54.2% FG%, 10.3 rebounds per game, 85.7% FT% & 1 block per game — Manchester Mystics (@Mcr_Mystics) April 6, 2017

Dominique Allen appears four times, shooting 54.2% from the field (3rd), grabbing an average of 10.3 rebounds per game (3rd), shooting 85.7% from the free-throw line (2nd) and averaging 1 block per game (2nd).